Salon’s Great Coffee Art contest

Send us a snap of your favorite barista's foamy brilliance, and become eligible for cool prizes

Topics: Great coffee art, Coffee and tea, Food Art, Food,

Salon's Great Coffee Art contestLatte art by Chuck Betz / Culture Espresso Bar

Update: So sorry if the entry you sent to bounced back. Everything’s fixed! Please give it another shot.

Latte art, pouring “textured” milk into espresso to create designs — and in some cases full drawings — is one of the branches of the barista’s discipline. We’ve enjoyed our milky coffees topped with hearts, roses and leaf shapes for years, but a recent smiley bear face finally got all of Salon to wonder, How does that work?

“The point is to learn to control everything at the coffee bar — the beans, the roast, the right grind, the water, the timing, the machine — everything. So part of that means learning how milk behaves, and how to control it,” says Ken Nye, owner of Ninth Street Espresso, and the man many credit with popularizing latte art in New York City.

And controlling the milk means, in short (because it can get very, very long), to 1) heat it up, which brings out its sugars, 2) “stretch” and infuse it with air, inflating it like whipped cream and 3) “roll” it to pop all the bubbles. If you get it right, you have a “microfoam” of thick, sweet, glossy milk that can hold its form when poured into espresso, allowing the barista to shape and stream it into lovely, graceful, whimsical designs. Well-textured milk tastes like magic, creamy but light. It has a visible sheen and makes a splat, like oil paint, when spilled. It’s miles away from the stiff, dry foam that floats on top of many a chain-coffee cup.

“It’s really not easy,” Nye says. “It’s a good first sign for your drink, because the barista’s taken the care and effort to learn the skill.” (“But,” he’s quick to add, “it’s one point of a complex process. It doesn’t really tell you anything about how properly made the coffee itself is, or how the drink is going to taste.”)


To celebrate this aspect (yes, it’s just one point, but it’s a fun point!) of the coffee arts, we’d love for you to show us the handiwork of your favorite coffee slingers. Snap some pictures of your favorite baristas’ latte art skills and send them to us. We’ll pick our favorite shots, and the top five entries will win fabulous prizes from Bodum, makers of super-sweet, design-y coffee gear.

Four winners will get a set of Canteen insulated glasses, made of wonderful-to-hold, super-light borosilicate glass. (No, I’m not shilling; I just date an architect whose geekiness about materials rubs off.) One super-extra winner will get the Canteen glasses and a classic Chambord French press. And, if you’d be so kind, please go and “Like” Bodum’s Facebook page. Yes, I am shilling now, but they’re kind enough to hand out some sweet prizes for our goofy little contest, so why not? Winners will be chosen purely based on the subjective whim of our staff judges!


Take a picture — or several, or many — of latte art, and email it to: Please include the name of the coffee shop, date, and time you took the picture, and, if you’d like, the name of the barista who created the art. (Don’t you like to see people recognized for their work?) By sending us the photo, you grant us permission to publish it on Salon.

Photos must be 400 x 600 minimum size, 72 dpi, but bigger is better. Please put “Foaming at the mouth” as the subject line of the email. And please know that by sending these photos in, you’re agreeing to give us permission to publish them on Salon.

All entries must be received by 1 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, April 6, 2011. Winners will be announced Monday, April 11.

Francis Lam

Latte art by Trey Wrange / Ninth Street Espresso

Francis Lam

Latte art by Trey Wrange / Ninth Street Espresso

Francis Lam

Latte art by Trey Wrange / Ninth Street Espresso

Ross Satchell

Latte art by Ross Satchell / Naidre’s Cafe, Brooklyn

Francis Lam is Features Editor at Gilt Taste, provides color commentary for the Cooking Channel show Food(ography), and tweets at @francis_lam.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>